Murfree's first meeting routine

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- In his first meeting with the full seven-member Board of Education, Dougherty County School System's new Superintendent Joshua Murfree's night went seemingly without a glitch Monday.

As part of his superintendent position, Murfree announced each agenda item before the board took its vote during the roughly 20-minute meeting at the school system's Administration Building.

At the end of the meeting, Murfree acknowledged the crowd of about 40 people, most of whom were DCSS employees.

"I'd like to thank the Dougherty County (School) Board and community, and thank them for their support," he said.

"The forecast for the school system now is good," the Rev. Eddie Bankston, a Murfree supporter who attended his first board meeting in about a month, said after the session. "We got through some clouds and rain, so now we'll see the sunshine. Dr. Murfree's in the right place."

Before the meeting, Murfree requested an executive session to discuss personnel matters. That closed meeting went 39 minutes.

School system Police Department Officer Keith Frazier had asked to meet with the board, but decided against that after meeting with school officials earlier in the day, Public Information Director R.D. Harter said. Frazier was recommended by system Chief of Police Troy Conley to be terminated after Conley said Frazier failed to notify him of serious incidents/intelligence and for what Conley described as dereliction of duties.

The School Board voted 3-1-3 to terminate Frazier, with board members David Maschke, Emily Jean McAfee and Michael Windom voting to terminate him. Milton Griffin voted against the termination and James Bush, Anita Williams-Brown and Velvet Riggins all abstained from voting.

Asked Monday night why she did not make a decision one way or the other, Williams-Brown said, "I do not have an opinion on that." Bush, asked the same question after the meeting as he was walking out, refused to respond. A Herald reporter was unable to talk to Riggins.

Harter said the school system's personnel office informed him that Frazier "is suspended indefinitely without pay."

The board voted 7-0 to approve the Building & Grounds Committee's recommendation to use Automated Business of Lee County for its multifunction copies contract after it submitted a four-year bid of $1,405,666.67.

It also made official its 4-3 preliminary vote to not seek a possible $2 million-per-year, three-year federal School Improvement Grant. In a phone poll conducted May 28, Bush, Riggins, Griffin and Maschke voted against the grant. Windom, McAfee and Williams-Brown voted in favor of the accepting the grant.

Before voting to make the phone poll official, Williams-Brown asked Maschke about taking another vote because "maybe someone changed their mind."

"It wouldn't do any good because the grant was due June 1," Maschke responded.

The board voted 7-0 to approve starting the process for a Tax Anticipation Note, preliminarily worth about $11 million, according DCSS Executive Director of Operations and Business Services Robert Lloyd. The TAN is used to help the school system when "cash flow" dips between July and December. Lloyd will report back to the board before issuing the TAN bid request.

In a late addition to the meeting, the board voted 6-1 to accept the revisions to its personnel policies, including changing the days new or vacated supervisory positions and certified positions from 20 calendar days to "10 business days prior to approval of the superintendent's recommendation by the Dougherty County Board of Education." Human Resources Director Tracy S. Williams made the recommendation to the personnel committee in a short meeting before the full board meeting.

Maschke voted against accepting the revision "because the advertising period was too short."

As he frequently does, high school substitute teacher Gregory Crews was also in attendance at Monday's meeting. Crews, a 20-year substitute for the system, has been accused of telling a female Albany High student that he had heard she performed an act of oral sex on a male student while he was teaching a class in May.

The Dougherty County School System Police Assistant Chief J.C. Phillips told The Herald that "there's no investigation; everything was handled administratively."

At the end of the meeting, Crews shook hands of each of the board members.

There was no action on Crews' case because the board is "awaiting the requested reports from the administration," Maschke said.